Slum Village & Mick Boogie :: The Dirty Slums 2
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
J Dilla month continues
at RapReviews with "The Dirty Slums 2," although the connection here
is a little more tenuous. His Slum Village membership brought recognition of his production
talents to a new level, but Dilla moved on to his own career in the early
2000's and his departure was the first of many upheavals for the group.
The only original member of the group still alive is T3, and
long-tenured and popular lyricist Elzhi departed from SV in 2010 - arguably not on good terms.
What exactly is the group now? Well you've got Dilla's brother
Illa J in the mix, long-time
affiliate Young RJ, and
you've got T3. I suppose as the sole person with direct linage to the
name since day one, anything with T3 can be called "Slum Village."
Other things such as any current or former member rapping over Dilla
beats could be considered "related" but not necessarily SV itself.
As confusing as the scenario seems to be from the first paragraph, the
very fact this amorphous group is worth trying to discern should give
you an inkling to the value of the Slum Village name. It's almost silly
at times on "Dirty Slums 2" though, as the revolving door lets a parade
of collaborators in and out, any of which could probably stake a claim
to SV after this point. Black Milk
is in no way an original member, but his Detroit sound and style make
him a spiritual successor to not only the group but to the Jay Dee
sound that put them on the map. Guilty Simpson was one of Dilla's favorite collaborators, so
including him on songs like "Decadence" invokes the ghost. Even
North Carolina's Rapper Big
Pooh claims in an interlude that (paraphrasing) there would be
no Little Brother without SV,
and no him without Little Brother, so there's another piece of the pie.
The truth of the matter though is that T3 is on 17 out of 24 slices of
that fruit filled pastry, and when you subtract out interludes and skits
that's actually 17 out of 19. If you were under the mistaken impression
T3 was generously handing out shares of Slum Village to anybody
with a connection to the group or deceased cohorts Dilla and Baatin,
the fact he's on almost 90% of the songs on what's ostensibly being
given away for free (though a high quality paid download is an option)
proves who is the alpha dog and who calls the shots. Young RJ can
describe the album as "our opportunity to do what we want to do -
the evolution of SV to a new form" but without the "Jay Dee Intro"
he'd have no form to evolve. That opening spoken word segues into
the song "The World Is Yours" by Baatin and T3, which firmly
establishes for this mixtape what the heritage of SV is. No matter
who gets plugged into the formula, the original 3 oversee it all -
two in the essence and one in the physical.
Now that we've established T3 has the right to call whatever he likes
Slum Village with credibility, the question to be answered is whether
or not "Dirty Slums 2" fulfills that legacy. Yes - as much so as
"Villa Manifesto" did
back in 2010 - only without Elzhi this time. As tempting as it is to
assume his absence takes a chunk out of SV lyrically, this project
doesn't seem to suffer. Production is strong throughout and that helps
move things along no matter who raps in the rotating cast. "How it
Feel" certainly feels like a Dilla song of old. The aforementioned
"Decadence" is ruggedly beautiful - a surly and dirty boom bap rap
slap anthem. "Riot" starts perfectly with the line "I +Set It Off+ like
I'm F. Gary Gray" and the echoing toms once again bring the Dilla
feel back to the group, as does the playfully sexual "Look At Yo
Face" with Illa J and Vice. From the lightly and bubbly "Church
Remix" with Focus and Skyzoo to the throwback stylings of "Gone"
featuring Bahamadia, "The Dirty Slums 2" hits all the right notes.
You can call it Slum Village or not as you choose,
but you can't call it a bad album.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: February 12th, 2013